Graduate Program Overview

The Department of Economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder is recognized as one of the top 50 economics departments in the country. Graduate students will find that they are participating in a program that has an excellent placement record and trains them well for careers in teaching, research and government or private sector employment.

PhD Program
Our PhD program focuses on a solid core curriculum in economic theory and econometrics. Beyond this, we offer a number of specialized fields of study: econometrics, economic development, economic history, environmental and natural resources economics, industrial organization, international trade and finance, and labor economics.

MA Program
We do not currently offer a stand-alone MA degree program, although students enrolled in our PhD program will earn their MA degree as they progress toward their doctorate. If you are interested in a masters-only program, you may want to contact the University of Colorado at Denver:

In addition to holding a bachelor's degree from a college or university of recognized standing, prerequisite coursework for admission includes intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory coursework, 6 college-level hours of calculus and 3 college-level hours of statistics. Minimum requirements and averages for GPA, GRE and TOEFL are listed in the chart below. 

Keep in mind that the prerequisites listed above and the numbers listed below are only part of the admissions picture. Our admissions committee will look at your application package as a whole before making admissions and funding decisions. Applicants demonstrating strength in mathematics are most likely to be admitted and funded.  Highly useful coursework includes calculus (through calc 3), linear algebra, intro to real analysis, differential equations, statistics with calculus (mathematical statistics), and probability theory.

Students are not expected to have a master's degree when they enter the program. They will earn their MA degree in the course of completing their doctorate. We do look at GPAs for graduate level work but do not use this as a standard measure since this is not a requirement for admission.

After successfully completing one semester in the program, a maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate level economics coursework may be transferred into the program, with permission, if the hours being transferred did not count toward a degree in another program. That said, students derive the greatest benefit (and a greater likelihood of success passing preliminary exams) if all core coursework is completed at UCB.


Minimum Required

Average for those
Accepted Fall 2014

Average for those Offered
Full Funding
Fall 2014

Undergraduate GPA    




Verbal GRE    

63 percentile

85 percentile

90 percentile

Quantitative GRE    

80 percentile

89 percentile

89 percentile


75 Overall
(“ibt” internet-based test)

23 Speaking

107 Overall
(“ibt” internet-based test)

25 Speaking

109 Overall
(“ibt” internet-based test)

26 Speaking

*All International applicants must submit TOEFL scores unless English is the native language in your country. NO EXCEPTIONS–even if you attended college in an English-speaking country. This is because we expect all students in our program to be teaching at some point—if not all—of their career in our program. A TOEFL speaking section score of at least 23 is expected for admission. At least 24 is required for those seeking funding. In addition, the department will schedule an English assessment for you after you arrive. If it is determined that you require training, the department will help you set this up and may be able to secure scholarships to cover the cost.

For international students, applications are due December 1st of the year preceding the year of admission. For domestic students, applications are due January 15th of the year of admission. Applications not completed by the due dates may not be considered for admission and will not be considered for funding.

Go here for step-by-step instructions about the application process:
Go here to begin your application:  

A completed application consists of:

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • Statement of Purpose (serves as your personal statement/writing sample)
  • Application supplement: "Coursework Completed" form (form to complete will be in your application)
  • One set of transcripts from each institution for all higher education completed
  • For international applicants, include one transcript for each institution in your native language and one transcript for each institution translated into English
  • Officially transmitted (ETS to UCB) verbal and quantitative GRE scores
  • Officially transmitted (ETS to UCB) TOEFL scores (for all international students where English is not the native language in your country)
  • Three letters of recommendation

All parts of your application MUST be submitted online with your application except transcripts, GRE, and TOEFL scores. Do not submit or mail any additional materials as they will delay processing of your file. Additional documents will not be reviewed.

GRE and TOEFL scores should be transmitted directly from ETS to CU Boulder. Our institution code is 4841. There is no need to submit a department code as all scores are sent to our admissions department for entry into a data system accessible by the department.

Transcript Submission


For standard international mail or mail within the US,
including USPS Priority and Express:
Graduate Admissions
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine St Suite A122
553 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0553 USA

For overnight or express mail
(DHL, FEDEX, UPS) send to:

Graduate Admissions
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine Street–553 UCB
Bldg RL3 Suite A122
Boulder, CO 80303-1058 USA
(303) 492-6301

For standard international mail or mail within the US,
including USPS Priority and Express:

Office of Admissions/International
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine St Suite A122
65 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0065 USA

For overnight or express mail
(DHL, FEDEX, UPS) send to:

Office of Admissions/International
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine Street–65 UCB
Bldg RL3 Suite A122
Boulder, CO 80303-1058 USA

When you apply to our program, you will automatically be considered for financial aid in the form of a teaching assistantship and/or fellowship as long as your application is received by our deadline. For international students, applications are due by December 1st. For domestic applicants, the deadline is January 15th.

Appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) your first year would include a stipend, tuition remission and assistance with health insurance. TAs assist an instructor with an undergraduate economics course. Duties include conducting recitation sections, consulting with students and assisting the course instructor with class preparation and grading. Continued support in the second semester depends upon satisfactory performance in coursework and assistantship duties in the first semester.

Students are provided an opportunity to apply for funding each semester. If you complete your coursework and exams as described under the PhD Degree Requirements section, perform well, and carry a competitive grade point average, your chances of being funded through your fifth year are good. Summer appointments are also available, but since there are fewer offered, they are harder to get.
In addition to teaching assistantships and, in later years, instructorships, the department also offers graduate student work-study appointments and grading appointments, as well as several special fellowships each year. You must complete a FAFSA in order to qualify for work-study appointments.

The department, the graduate school and the university will keep you informed about other possible funding sources.

Admissions and funding decisions are typically made by March for all applications received by the appropriate deadlines. Applicants are notified about decisions via email as soon as possible after they are made.

For further information, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Patricia Holcomb, at